HISD taps former Jack Yates High School student and teacher, Stephanie Torrez Square, to lead the historic school into the future
After weeks of concern, angst, and uncertainty in the community about who would become the next principal of the historic Jack Yates Senior High School, an exciting decision has been made.
Jack Yates is welcoming its newest principal to the legendary Third Ward campus; but listen, although this newly-hired individual may be new to the principal role at Jack Yates, they are not new to serving as a principal. On top of that, they definitely are not new when it comes to understanding the traditions and appreciating the rich history of Jack Yates Senior High School.
So, who is the new principal? Drum roll, please …………
Stephanie Torrez Square, who is a proud Yates alumnus and former teacher at the school, has officially been named the new principal at Jack Yates. The announcement was made earlier this week.
Best believe, there has been tremendous excitement, a sigh of relief, and an enormous buzz in the community regarding the announcement of this new hire.
Square, 39, takes the helm at Jack Yates, just in time for the start of the upcoming school year.
Square took to Facebook on July 24th to announce the exciting news about the hire, stating:
“I am proud to announce I will be serving as Principal at THE ONE AND ONLY Jack Yates High School.”
As part of her social media announcement, Square also posted several pictures of her that featured family members, former coaches—like several of her with popular longtime Coach Maurice McGowan—fellow classmates, former teammates, and several other individuals.
The Facebook post has garnered hundreds of positive responses, especially from members of the Jack Yates alumni, and the post continues to be liked and shared.
Square replaces former Jack Yates principal Tiffany Guillory, who was one of three principals removed from their respective schools and reassigned by new Interim Superintendent Mike Miles this month. Guillory served as the principal of Jack Yates High from the start of the 2018-19 school year, up to her removal and reassignment.
Prior to Jack Yates, Square served as the principal of East Early College High School. Under her leadership, the school earned an A rating from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) last year. Square takes the reins of a Jack Yates campus that the TEA claims has failed four out of the last six state assessments, although there are many advocates who dispute those expressed outcomes.
Square is excited and tells the Forward Times that she is humbled about being the new Jack Yates principal and is thrilled about taking the reins of leadership at the school she calls home.
“I’m elated to come back home! My priority is for Yates to thrive,” said Square. “I was voted ‘Most Athletic’ out of my graduating class as a student and was voted ‘Teacher of the Year’ by my peers in 2011, as a teacher. I have so many connections here. I met my husband here (a Square). Coach McGowan was the closest thing I had to a father. I know I’m home.”
Those who know, know that the “Square” last name is a well-known staple when it comes to Jack Yates and in the Greater Houston area. There are so many to name, such as NFL football defensive tackle Damion Square—who also was a three-time national champion with the Alabama Crimson Tide during his college career—and many more who attended Jack Yates.
“As a student athlete, I interacted with three ‘Squares’ while at Yates,” said Square. “When I was a student at Yates, Poppa Square would always volunteer. I would see him buying lunch for students who didn’t have money. John Michael “Supe” and I competed in UIL Math. I loved how the Square family showed up and showed out to watch all the games. I learned later on how almost synonymous the family name is with Jack Yates.”
Square was born and raised in Houston, after her parents immigrated to Houston from Nicaragua in the 1980s. They had five children, including two sets of twins. Square and her sisters started their educational journey attending Rusk and Anson Jones Elementary, as part of the Houston Independent School District (HISD). Square went on to attend Gregory Lincoln Education Center, where she played basketball and competed in gymnastics.
While in middle school, her father was deported, which led to her relocating with her mother and sisters from Clayton Homes to the Cuney Homes in Houston’s historic Third Ward. Square found herself enrolled as a student at Jack Yates, where she became a multi-sport athlete, having played basketball, soccer, softball, tennis, and even running track and cross country.
After graduating from Jack Yates in 2002, Square matriculated to Texas Southern University (TSU), where she graduated manga cum laude with distinguished honor roll, earning a B.B.A. in Accounting. Soon after graduation from TSU, she came back home to Jack Yates for the first time, beginning her teaching career as a secondary math teacher at the school. During her time as a teacher at Jack Yates, she also served as Small Learning Community lead, math department chairperson, a member of the Shared Decision-Making Committee (SDMC), varsity soccer coach, and was a part of the Faculty Advisory Committee.
Square continued her education at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, earning an M.B.A. with a concentration in Accounting. While attending Rice University, she was also a member of the Finance Club, Hispanic Business Student Association, Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, Rice Educational Leadership Club, Net Impact Club, and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. Square went on to serve as a Teacher Specialist at Wheatley High School, and assistant principal at both North Forest and Austin high schools.
At Austin High School, Square led the mathematics department, oversaw dual credit programming, and executed a plan to increase linkage and usage of Khan Academy and College Board resources, prior to being named principal at East Early College High School in 2018.
Square served with distinction at East Early College High School from 2018, until she received the call to return home and serve as the newest principal of the high school where her educational journey and career all started—Jack Yates Senior High School.
When asked what message she wishes to share with the students, parents, alumni, staff, and community regarding the future of Yates with her at the helm, Square tells the Forward Times:
“The future is bright. Any students that don’t choose to attend Yates will wish they did later. Our school website will be updated soon and will serve as our main source of information, especially our calendar. I’m working to create systems to make myself more accessible. I’m beyond grateful for the outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve received so far. There is no place like home!”